Review: One Christmas Eve

Title: One Christmas Eve
Author: Robin Patchen

Review by: Lacy Williams

Patchen's debut book is a keeper.

I love Christmas stories, but this isn't the same-old, same-old. Blake Carmichael is an actor who is trying to overcome being estranged from his son. Except his teenaged son sneaks out in the night. With Tallie's niece. When Blake and Tallie go after the teens, they start to get to know each other and sparks fly... until Tallie thinks she finds out Blake's true nature. But what's the real truth? Will they find the kids? Will Blake find a way to reconnect with his son?

Sharp dialogue and strong characters, plus a fast pace will keep you turning pages. I couldn't put this book down and I bet you won't be able to either. Highly recommended.


Book Review: Writing Novels That Sell

Book Review: Writing Novels That Sell by Jack Bickham

Reviewed by Susan Crawford

Writing Novels That Sell
is a comprehensive workshop-style book for authors who want to create publishable novels. Bickham covers everything from work habits and the nature of story to practical elements of the craft like developing the psychology of characters and scene structure. Other elements include point of view, setting, handling time, and conflict. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter to help you apply the concepts to your own work.

I’ve read this book all the way through a few times and have learned something new each time. But the chapter on scene and sequel is the one I’ve bookmarked, highlighted and returned to over and over. Bickham says, “Gut-level understanding of scene and sequel is the single most crucial factor in becoming a successful novelist.” He contends that unless an author has sold several novels, she undoubtedly does not have a solid understanding of dramatic structure. I’m starting to believe he’s right. When I read a scene that works, it always follows this pattern:


It seems so simple. Somehow, though, when I start writing my own scenes, everything gets a little blurry and those elements aren’t so easy to apply.  But Bickham assures his students that learning scene structure and the other elements of storytelling is not easy for anyone. It takes lots of time and practice.

I highly recommend this book for any fiction writer, regardless of his level of experience. Bickham’s lessons are full of helpful information and he writes in a way that’s straightforward and easy to understand. He encourages us to give ourselves time to let it all soak in and then, keep at it.

Thanks, Susan, for your review!


Tips for Attending a Small Writer’s Conference

Today's post is by OCFW member Robin Patchen.

I attended the OWFI conference in May, and I learned a few of things about attending small conferences that I thought I’d share.

Volunteer:  I agreed to be the helper for Normandie Fischer, an editor at a very small publishing house. From her bio and website, I could tell she was a talented writer and a Christian. I figured maybe if I did a good job, she’d take pity on me and look at my writing. 

Well, Normandie and I hit it off immediately, and by the time we sat down to lunch after I’d picked her up at the airport on Thursday, we were like long lost sisters. She has indeed agreed to help me with my writing, and I’m helping her, too.

Now I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience as I did, but who knows what kind of folks God will let you meet when you’re willing to volunteer.

Engage in the activities: I’m an introvert, secretly always looking for a way to be alone. But these conferences don’t last long enough to waste time. Because of my connection with Normandie, I had lunch with her and her agent, Terry Burns, along with a few other authors on Friday. I also attended a pre-conference dinner on Thursday night for speakers and their helpers, where I sat with the keynote speaker, Steven James. Even though I was exhausted, I stayed for the banquet Friday night and heard a hilarious speech. In other words, I threw myself into the conference rather than allowing myself to flitter in and out like a schizophrenic butterfly.  Was it hard? Sometimes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Pitch your story: Even if your dream agent and editor aren’t there, you should pitch, because the more often you pitch your story, the better you’ll be at it. So look for an agent or editor interested in what you sell—even if you don’t think he’d be a good fit for you—and pitch away. Worst case scenario, you learn a little more about pitching, which gets you one step closer to publication.

So to get the most out of your small, local conferences, volunteer, engage in the activities, and pitch your work. Who knows what God will do with your efforts?


Review: The Homesteader's Sweetheart


Reviewed by Regina Jennings

Cheaper by the Dozen Meets Love Comes Softly - 5 Stars

To watch Penny Castlerock and her fine ways you wouldn't think that some of the best years of her childhood were spent at her grandparents' farm. The life she lives as a prosperous banker's daughter has nearly erased those fond memories. But when an unwanted suitor makes a nuisance of himself, she sees a return to the Wyoming prairie as her only escape.

Jonas White could never forget the spoiled girl he watched while laying bricks next to her expensive school, and Penny can't forget the scandal between him and one of her classmates. When their paths cross again, Jonas is the father of a motley crew of seven boys and a girl whose seizures have forced them into financial ruin. Desperately trying every remedy, Jonas will spend his last dime to find a cure.

Lacy Williams' book is delightful. She gives us a quiet, humble hero in Jonas, and Penny charms in every scene. Add to that the raucous mischief eight meddling children can create and a creepy villain and you have a great story that remains with the reader long after the last page.


2012 Fiction Workshop - a whole day of learning!

The 2012 Oklahoma Fiction Writer’s Conference will be held at Memorial Road Church of Christ on July 21 from 9:30 to 4:00.

Speaking this year are: Multi-published and award-winning authors Margaret Daley, Lacy Williams, Rachel Hauck (via webcast) and DiAnn Mills (via webcast). Also via webcast we will see award-winning speaker and website guru Thomas Umstattd Jr. All five are not only giants in their fields but excellent and seasoned speakers and teachers.
Thomas Umstattd Jr. has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since he taught his first website design class at 16. He runs AuthorMedia.com, a resource for authors timid about technology.
Authors Daley, Williams, Hauck and Mills will talk about various aspects of writing, editing and publishing a successful novel in today’s difficult publishing environment. Among them they have published almost 140 novels and have won multiple awards.
Classes will be offered for beginners and advanced writers. Mentoring appointments with seasoned veterans in the publishing industry will also be available.
The cost for the conference is $50. Please visit http://novelinspirations.com/ocfw/2012_workshop.html to register.

Location: Memorial Road Church of Christ is located at 2221 E. Memorial Road in Edmond.
The 2012 Fiction Writers Conference is sponsored by the OKC Christian Fiction Writers and Writers of Inspiration Novels (WIN) of Tulsa.


Review: The Homesteader's Sweetheart




Reviewed by Terri Weldon

Wealthy Penny Castlerock is desperate to escape the attentions of the loathsome Mr. Abbott. Her father approves of the much older suitor, but Penny is determined she will never marry him. Eager to get away she volunteers to visit her ailing grandfather. Penny and her brother Sam hitch a ride with Jonas White. Jonas White has been enamored of the lovely Miss Castlerock since he worked as a bricklayer’s assistant in Philadelphia where she went to finishing school. He traveled to town in the hopes of securing a loan to pay for medical treatment for his daughter. Initially though attracted to Jonas, Penny can’t imagine life with a poor homesteader with eight children. Jonas knows a woman like Penny would never love him, after all other than his ragtag family no one has ever loved him. However, as the couple spends more time together Penny’s feelings for Jonas continue to grow. She surprises Jonas with her horsemanship abilities and willingness to help out however she can.

Lacy has created a hero every woman will fall in love with! Believe me, by the end of the story you’ll want to move Penny Castlerock over and take her place by Jonas’s side.  Penny is a delightful heroine vividly portrayed by Ms. William’s pen and watching her mature throughout the book is a joy. The author does an excellent job of portraying the historical setting and gives the reader a real feel for life as a homesteader in Wyoming Territory in 1890. 

I highly recommend this book.  Trust me, you’ll love it!




I'm posting a review of a book by one of our local members, Regina Jennings. If you like historical romance (Tracie Peterson, Kim Vogel Sawyer, etc.), this is a new author you need to check out!

And if you live in Oklahoma City, stop by to see Regina and buy one of her books on SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 from 11-1 at Mardel in Edmond.


Reviewed by Lacy Williams

In this Western version of the Ruth and Boaz story, Rosa Garner plays the dutiful daughter-in-law who returns to a foreign land—Texas. Some folks think Rosa is real nice and has done a kind thing, taking care of her mother-in-law, but most don’t understand her and she feels pretty out-of-place.

Weston Garner is a relation of Rosa’s mother-in-law, and he meets Rosa at a family sheep shearing. He’s instantly attracted to the dark-haired beauty with the fiery spirit, but ghosts from his past make him keep her at arms-distance.

Until Rosa sneaks into his barn, looking for help, and finds a husband—Weston—instead.

Jennings writes a heroine readers will love. Rosa is strong enough to survive a harsh Texas prairie, and tender-hearted enough to dream of a love of her own.

Filled with vivid descriptions, a rich historical setting, and memorable characters, this is a book you won’t want to miss! Highly recommended!